Make the money, don’t let the money make you

If read this blog for vegetable tips and recipes you might want to skip this ‘lifestyle’ post, for everyone else, welcome to my blog where I say and think what I like.

This is the sixth week I will be officially unemployed. Giving up my more or less full time job to become a full time student again was a hard decision that took me a year of unhappiness to make, but with the encouragement and support of my wonderful Becky, I took the plunge. I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on how much of my identity was tied up with my job, and also to think about the things that matter to me.

A wise woman once said to me ‘ I stress and worry about job A, then the weird thing is, when I move to job B, I don’t give job A a second thought’. This is certainly true for me, yes I leave people behind who I care about, and for the most part, I keep in touch with the ones with whom I had a genuine connection, but the work really never features in my thoughts again. At the time, job A can seem like your whole world, all those little battles become so important, your reputation and professionalism take on an almost religious sense of importance……on reflection, for me this has felt like a big fat waste of a happy life.

Luckily for me I was brought up with two conflicting dialogues going on in the home, my Mum always said , work hard and be professional, but that isn’t what is going to make you happy, time is worth more than money. My Dad on the other hand built a very successful career through a long hard journey and loved his work more than anything else except family. I was raised to believe that a good education gave you power and a professional career meant that you were successful. I still believe this, but sometimes I wonder if in the rush for career and success I had lost perspective on my life.

My dominant thought for the last eighteen months had been….

“Each day sinks it’s boot print into my clay and I’m not the same”
Ani DiFranco

Something had to change…

So here I am, it’s nearly 9am and I don’t have to go to work, which is amazing. I know that not everyone could do this, and that I am in a unique and privileged position (for a few years) of being able to live on some savings, I also know that both of us couldn’t do this at the same time. The amazing thing is that we are both so much happier, and some of the improvements in our lives have surprised us. Although most days I am studying all day, I am also taking care of the house completely, all the shopping and cooking. I am walking the dogs and taking care of the jobs on the farm, which means that Becky has got time to swim after work, or run, she doesn’t have to do washing up in the evenings any more or take care of household admin (with a few exceptions!), I can say “relax, I’ll sort that out”. We are eating better, sleeping better and have more energy. I feel more able to spend time with my family, as I am not tired all the time. We are both happier, healthy and more time rich. We have a bit less money, but the savings I make on food, fuel and petrol are making this difference almost negligible. So in what ways are we worse off?

I could have spent this time feeling guilty for being the one at home, or I could have worried that a career break would make me less employable, or I could have let it effect my sense of self worth and identity, but I have decided to take the unusual and radical step of enjoying every minute of it. So the moral of the story is for me, don’t let your career define you, don’t let a job take over your whole sense of self worth, and if you are very unhappy in your work, change something. Life is way too short.

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